Thieves Are Stealing Entire Steering Wheels Just To Sell Airbags Because Pandemic

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A news report out of the Detroit area details a recent string of airbag thefts, because apparently there is now a robust market for stolen airbags. The vehicles that have been targeted are primarily Chevy Malibus and Equinoxes.

Over the span of a couple of days earlier this week, police in Eastpointe, Michigan (12 miles northeast of Detroit) say that they received 11 calls for thefts of entire steering wheels. The reason for the uptick in thefts? The reason for everything the last year, the pandemic. Shortages created by Covid-19 factory slowdowns and shutdowns created strong demand for replacement airbags. In response, some unscrupulous mechanics are offering cash on the spot for steering wheels with airbags. Sometimes mechanics are selling the stolen wheels as replacements for people who have had their steering wheels stolen.


The worst part of all of this is the economic burden put on the victims. Airbag replacement isnt cheap, with the average cost ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. Keep in mind these are Chevy’s this is happening to. One could only imagine the cost for a car like a Mercedes S Class or BMW 7 Series. That’s on top of not having a vehicle to drive to work to get the money to be able to pay for the replacement.

Airbag theft has been a thing for years now. The National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that thieves make over $50 million a year off airbag theft. And over the years it’s only gotten worse, with some sketchy shops stealing the wheels themselves.